LAWS 318: Resource Management Law

Recommend course:


Course content:

This course will be an introduction to the Resource Management Act 1991 and the framework it creates for the sustainable management of New Zealand's natural and physical resources. The course will consider the application and operation of the RMA in a variety of contexts.

The course will involve lectures, class discussion, group exercises, field trips, and guest lectures. Students are expected to attend class and to participate in class discussion. Please note there are mandatory attendance requirements and participation is a significant assessment component.

Online video and audio resources will be used to supplement the required text and the materials available on Talis.

Within this course the following topics will be covered and a detailed reading schedule will be provided at the outset of the course:

1. Context and History

  • The state of New Zealand's environment and the challenges we face.
  • Where does the RMA fit into environmental law and the governance of natural resources and where did it come from?
  • Maori resource management and the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Overview of the Act: Purpose, principles and structure of RMA.
  • Recent or proposed amendments: What are they and what do we think?

2. Purpose and Principles of the RMA

  • What does sustainable management mean? Thinking critically about the concept of sustainability and the role of law.
  • Definitions.
  • Restrictions.
  • The precautionary principle and the role of science.
  • Maori worldview and interests in the RMA.

3. The Decision Makers

National, regional and local policy and plan making

  1. The purpose of planning and the respective functions and powers of Ministers, regional and territorial authorities, other government departments and bodies.
  2. Iwi management plans and recognised customary activities.
  3. Role and functions of the Minister.
  4. What are local plans, and what do they do?
  5. Participation and community planning.
  6. Approaches to interpretation of planning documents.

Adjudication, dispute resolution and enforcement in resource management:

  1. Local authorities, commissioners and boards of inquiry.
  2. The Environment Court.

4. Duties, Restrictions and Resource Consents

  • Statutory presumptions and duties.
  • Types of resource consent, classification of activities.
  • Participation in resource consents.
  • Projects of national significance.

Course learning objectives:

Students who pass this course should be able to:


  1. Understand the basic concepts which underpin the RMA, including the concepts of ‘environment’, ‘resources’ and ‘sustainable management’, the values which must be considered in decision making, and the effect of the requirement to take account of the principles of the Treaty.
  2. Understand the role of Māori concepts and interests in decision-making under the RMA.
  3. Understand decision-making roles and procedures, and the opportunities for public participation
  4. Identify the different responsibilities for resource management planning, and know how to read plans.
  5. Evaluate a basic development proposal and apply planning provisions to determine the type and classification of any consents which may be required.
  6. Understand the process for basic applications for resource consent, and the kind of information which will be needed to enable such applications to be determined.
  7. Critically evaluate how well the RMA achieves its purpose and goals and be able to comment on recent and proposed amendments.



Catherine Iorns Magallanes


Tuesday 17 July to Friday 24 August and Tuesday 11 September to Friday 19 October 2018

Days, times and venues:

  • Tuesdays 16:40 - 17:30, GBLT4, First Floor, Government Buildings, VUW - Pipitea Campus, Wellington
  • Wednesdays 16:40 - 17:30, GBLT4, First Floor, Government Buildings, VUW - Pipitea Campus, Wellington
  • Thursdays 16:40 - 17:30, GBLT4, First Floor, Government Buildings, VUW - Pipitea Campus, Wellington

About ACCESS Victoria:

This is an opportunity to attend lectures in a mainstream Victoria University course without having to undertake any assignments or assessment.

ACCESS Victoria allows you to attend only the lectures for the course you’re enrolled in.  You do not attend tutorials or do the assessments for the course.

Places are always subject to availability and mainstream students take priority. If the course does fill up and ACCESS Victoria places are no longer available we will contact you before the start of the course.

You will have access to a Blackboard account (the University’s online learning tool) so you can view the lecture images, image lists or other material posted on the course page. Any Blackboard messages regarding tutorials, assignments, tests or exams are not applicable to Access Victoria students.

You will be sent a username and password by Victoria Professional Development to allow you to access Blackboard. 
Please contact us at Victoria Professional Development if you are experiencing problems with Blackboard.

You may use the University Library resources in the library, but you won't be able to withdraw books and you will not be able to access the University's electronic database, ebooks or online articles.

View information about the full credit course on the main Victoria University website

For further information:
Victoria Professional and Executive Development, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

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